The program for the 2007 National Conference is complete!  It looks great and a lot of really informative sessions have been planned.                                 
For those of you who are new to the Association, we kick the Conference off with the day-long Growers’ School.  It is intensive and geared towards the new flower grower.  However, you will find experienced farmers participating as well; there is always something to learn. The Growers’ School is limited to 85 participants, so it is important to register early to save your seat. We have a fantastic lineup of farmers, university and extension folks and suppliers to share knowledge with you.        

Let me share a few highlights of the Growers’ School.  Vicki Stamback of Bear Creek Farms will discuss “Starting Your Own Business”.  Vicki is a terrific and experienced farmer.  She is also a very inspiring speaker.  I always learn a lot when I hear Vicki talk.  Debbie Roos with NC Cooperative Extension will speak on “Controlling Diseases and Insects”.  I have bragged on Debbie in the past.  She is one the best extension agents around.  She works incredibly hard for small farmers.  Insects happen to be one for her specialties.  Joe Davidson, the owner of Berry Hill irrigation will give a primer on irrigation systems.  The Davidsons are so nice and knowledgeable.  Berry Hill irrigation has a tremendous product lineup, a great staff and speedy service.  As we barrel headlong into a drought, a reliable irrigation system is crucial.    We will wrap the day up with a rotating hands-on session.  Several people including some of John Dole’s graduate students will instruct on various topics.  These are just a few highlights from Monday October, 1st.   The complete program for the Growers’ School is available online at the ASCFG website.  You will not want to miss this fantastic learning opportunity.                              

The Conference Committee wanted to do something a little different with the Trade Show this year.  We have scheduled the entire Trade Show for Tuesday, October 2nd.  The show will kick off at 2:00 pm with a Vendor Showcase.  This will give vendors a couple of minutes to introduce themselves and describe their company and products.  The Trade Show begins at 3:00 pm.  This is a great chance for growers to talk with vendors about products.  Maybe you want more information about setting up an irrigation system.  This is the opportunity.  Maybe you want more information on growing lilies.  This is the opportunity.  The Trade Show is really a long educational session.  Come with your questions and be prepared to learn.          

There is a lot to do in North Carolina, so you may want to extend your stay.   If you have time you may want to visit fellow ASCFG members’ farms.  Steve and Susan Bender, Homestead Flower Farm and David and Carmen Huffman, Carmen’s Greenhouse have graciously agreed to be part of the  “On Your Own Tour”.  Details about traveling to these farms will be made available at a later date.  You may want to visit Duke Gardens in Durham.  Coker Arboretum and the NC Botanical Gardens are located in Chapel Hill.  You can always spend more time at the Ralston Arboretum.  If your plans keep you through the weekend, you can visit the Carrboro or Durham Farmer’s Market.                            

In addition to tons of great horticultural and farming activities, we have several wonderful restaurants.  I will send out a list of links for sightseeing and restaurants later this summer.  If you are planning to stay in the area a little longer, you gotta get out of the hotel and eat.  I can point you to the best cheese grits, homemade onion rings, crème puffs and coconut cream pie in town! Mark your calendar for October 1-4 and we will show you some wonderful southern hospitality.